Broken Friends

Chapter 20

“Daniel?” Sam knocked on the door to her friend’s lab as she stepped in. Daniel was as expected at his desk, bent in deep concentration over a clay tablet from P3-something-something that he had taken a break from the data base to have a look at. He held up a hand in the universal sign of ‘wait a minute while I finish this’. After jotting down a few notes on a pad he straightened up and turned to her with an inviting smile.

“How’s it going?” she asked with a gesture to his work.

“Good. This tablet from SG-11’s expedition to P35-996 is really interesting. It’s written in cuneiform, and I think I’ve pretty much gotten the translation done. It’s simple actually; just some kind of business deal or contract. But it might prove rather informative about the lives of the people on that planet – and on Earth in the time of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires.”

Sam nodded interestedly, but Daniel could tell there was something on her mind.

“You didn’t come here to hear about the tablet did you?” he commented non-accusingly. Despite his kind tone she felt a wave of guilt when she shook her head.

“I’m sorry, it is really interesting, but no.”

Daniel waved off her apology.

“What is it? You can ask me anything…”

“Why did the colonel ask you to move in with him?”

“Except that! Sam, I…I can’t talk about that.”

“Come on, just between us. It can’t be that big of a deal?”

Her coaxing had no effect on Daniel, who just shook his head and gave her another answer vague on content but clear on message.

“Jack doesn’t want it to get out. That’s why we didn’t tell anyone.”

“Want what to get out?” she tried one last time, but Daniel smiled and shook his head again.

“Nice try, Sam. If you really want to know I suggest you talk to Jack. He would kick my ass if I told you.”

“Can’t blame a girl for trying.”

Sam gave a mock pout and left him to his work, hoping that her answers would indeed come from another source.

As a rare occasion of monumental scale, Jack was in his office catching up on a heap of backlogged paperwork. He didn’t like doing it, but since he had requested himself and his team on stand down he didn’t actually have anything else to do. General Hammond had practically ordered him to set pen to paper, and Jack suspected it was partly to make him want to get out on the field again. Being as he was rarely to be found in his office, Jack was – happily – surprised to have his work interrupted by a curt knock on the door.

“Enter,” he called, and the door opened to admit Teal'c. Jack’s delight at being interrupted intensified, the feeling reflecting in the broad grin lightening on his face.

“Well hello, Teal'c,” he said and put down his pen to stretch his fingers. “What brings you to my humble abode?”

“I wish to inquire of you on a matter that grates at my curiosity.”

Teal'c spoke in his typical stilted way, which forced Jack to run the sentence twice through his mind to figure out what he meant.

“What is it you wanna ask?” he rephrased, in part to make sure he had gotten it right.

“I wish to inquire of you the reason that you requested DanielJackson to share your home. And why you found this necessary to be kept from SamanthaCarter and myself.”

Teal'c’s words were as level and measured as always, but there was a barb in the innocent questions that insidiously dug itself into Jack’s heart. Yet he was not about to give in that easily. The secrets he kept were secrets for a reason.

“T, man, this is precisely why we didn’t tell anyone. Everyone makes such a big deal out of it. It’s a practical arrangement, nothing else.”

“I am sorry, my warrior brother.”

Teal'c bowed his head in a sorrowful nod. The little motion tugged at the barb that had lodged itself within Jack, like a fishing line tugging at the hook. He shook his head.

“You don’t have to apologize for asking, Teal'c. There’s just nothing to tell.”

“I am not sorry for inquiring, it is my regret that I cannot believe you, O’Neill.”

Jack felt his chin drop, unable to pick it up as Teal'c continued,

“I also regret that you do not trust me with the truth after all we have faced together.”

Subconsciously Jack ran his fingers through his hair; a futile attempt to push away the mounting feeling of guilt. Realizing what he was doing he snapped his eyes to Teal'c.

“Really, Teal'c? You’re giving me the guilt trip?”

“I was not aware of bestowing a journey of blame…”

Teal'c’s confusion made Jack mentally kick himself.

“It’s an expression,” he explained. “It means you’re trying to make me feel bad so I’ll tell you what you want to know.”

Teal'c remained silent, admitting to nothing, but the lack of expression on his face was as blatant as any confession. It couldn’t have been more enervating if the man had right out blackmailed him for the answer.

“Nahuh, no, no…” Jack rose and rounded the desk. Grabbing his friend’s sturdy shoulders he tried to half shove, half guide him out of the room, but Teal'c stood rooted to the floor. With a sigh Jack gave up on forcing him out, returning to trying to convince him to leave by words.”I don’t want to talk about it, okay?!”

The only reaction from Teal'c was a slight relaxation of his stance. The movement only added to Jack’s defeat, as he recognized it as an adjustment into the guarding position Teal'c could hold for hours if necessary. Jack plunked back down in his chair.

“I’m not gonna talk no matter how long you stay there,” he tried with a mix of weary irritation, but still Teal'c said nothing.

Unable to win and unwilling to admit defeat, Jack decided to ignore him and instead focus on his work. He worked hard for an hour, studiously avoiding lifting his gaze. Finally there were no more papers to sign, no more reports to correct, and no more obscure request forms to fill out. Sneaking a peek up he saw that Teal'c was still in his spot in front of the door, regarding him with the same fixed gaze as an hour ago. I’m not even sure he has blinked since he entered, Jack thought.

An idea for a last resort of escape dawning, Jack gathered the papers destined for the general’s desk and steered his steps towards the door. To his surprise Teal'c stepped aside to let him out, but that was where his luck ran out. As he headed for Hammonds office Teal'c fell in behind him, a silent shadow slowly but surely waning on his patience.

When he reached the general’s open door Jack stuck his head in, and on Hammond’s inviting wave he stepped in to hand over his stack of reports and forms.

“I’m impressed, Colonel,” the general said, accepting the pile and flipping through it. Jack pointed his thumb over his shoulder.

“Stone face here wouldn’t leave me alone so there wasn’t much else to do.” The irritation in Jack’s voice didn’t pass the general by, but Hammond tried to keep his tone light as he commented on the silent presence a step behind Jack.

“I should have Teal'c hover over you every time I need to get the reports in on time. Why did he?”

“No reason.” Jack’s reply was hurried, and obviously intended to ward off the question. He cringed when Teal'c stepped forward to answer in his stead.

“I have inquired O’Neill concerning a secret and I am awaiting his explanation.”

“A secret, colonel?” Hammond turned a curious gaze back to Jack, making the colonel roll his eyes and shoot an angry look towards Teal'c.

“Yes, sir, a secret. But I’m not telling.” Jack knew he sounded like an obstinate kid, but decided not to do anything about it. He wasn’t going to spill his beans about the real reasons for asking Daniel to move in, especially not to the general. There was far too great a risk of him landing in a heart to heart with Dr. Mackenzie. And I do not need a shrink.

The general suppressed an amused grin attempting to curve his lips. He was definitely curious about the colonel’s secret but he decided to have mercy on him.

“Teal'c, leave O’Neill alone. I’m sure he’ll come around if you give him some space.”

“As you wish.” Teal'c gave the general one of his curt bows and left the room.

“Thank you, sir.” Jack turned to leave as well, but paused as Hammond replied.

“You’re welcome, son. But colonel, you know well enough that secrets aren’t particularly good for team dynamics.”

The general’s words refused to leave Jack as he went about his business the rest of the day. Heading up to the gym it echoed in his mind, ‘secrets’. As he ate his dinner in the commissary he heard, ‘team dynamics’.

“Darn you, general,” he muttered walking down the hallway to pick Daniel up and go home. He kept the visit from Teal'c to himself, but it grated on his mind well into the night and sent him twisting and turning before he finally fell asleep.

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